August 1, 2016

Four Poems by Gloria g. Murray: "At Seventy," "Life," "Damn You, Facebook," "Brown Bag Lunch" and "Letter To A Deceased Husband"

Gloria g. Murray has been published in various journals including The Paterson Review, Poet Lore, Bardic Echoes, Third Wednesday, The Ledge, The Literary Quarterly and others. One of her poems was honored by Ted Kooser in his on-line column American Life in Poetry. She is the recipient of poetry awards, including the 2014 first prize Anna Davidson Rosenberg award from Poetica Magazine. She writes stories and essays, as well as one-act plays, two of which have been performed on Long Island and off-Broadway and is an active member of PPA and Poets & Writers, Inc.


I get a tattoo—a purple rose of Cairo
above my left breast
take an art class, find I can no longer draw
I go on all the match sites
there’s nothing but old dudes propped
on motorcycles, faded tattoos, no hair
missing teeth, a huge parrot
on one shoulder, a young gal cut away
from part of the pic, an enticing blurb:
Italian stud seeking his studette—
must like tongue kissing, exotic food, hiking
X-rated movies, horses and livestock
would consider Bunji-jumping under the right circumstance
I eat the same breakfast—two slices of raisin bread
with no high fructose jelly, consume
about fifteen cups of green tea a day
I’ve begun hitting the bottle—
Manischewitz blackberry wine
I watch my grandson twice a week
we have intellectual conversations, like
why people get old and die
at seven, he draws better than me
the highlight of my day—Judge Judy at four
I say—
she’d set the world right, alright
sure knows how to single out the bad guys
I think she and officer Bert might be getting it on
well, now it’s time for tea again
I know it all sounds a bit dull
but then there’s always a game of scrabble or chess
or one of those great old flicks you only saw twice
and there’s always the mail—
sometimes the rejection slips offer personal comments
they say that’s a good sign—
I’m not quite sure why


      takes you by the balls
and squeezes
until you yelp
like a wild dog
       then it takes its fat fist
and punches the shit
out of you
       then with razor sharp
pokes you right in the eyes
until you stumble around
half blind
        then it shoves
its wishbone philosophies
down your throat
until you gasp
for the Heimlich
        then it serves you
under-cooked salvation
on a paper plate
without any utensils
         and if that isn’t enough
it brings death
unannounced to your house
your hospitality
and a goddamn place
at your table


I swore I wouldn’t do it
yet here I am, it’s 2 a.m. and I’m doing it
but it’s just too, too addictive
I could be writing instead
or reading one of the greats
but now I’m out there-fair game
with all the others
but I had to answer, didn’t I?
become a friend of a friend and a friend
to someone else’s friend
and so on and so on…
even with someone I never met
or someone I never cared to meet
or someone I bumped into in the supermarket
and they hugged me because, after all
hadn’t I just become a friend ?
and even my son asked to be friends
and there I was, posted on events
caught by someone’s I-phone or lens
and damn, how I wanted my face
off this mega mainstream of mass media—
but what could I do?
and wouldn’t it be insulting
to say no even to the friends of the friends I would never know
but who wanted to know me
so I had to check the YES box because
wouldn’t I be considered unsocial if I did otherwise
and all the mystery if being who I am
would be lost just because
I couldn’t X the box that said NO?


Remember the brown bag lunch
we took to school in 95 + weather
—no ice pack—tuna with extra mayo
bologna and cheese stuck between
two slices of moldy white bread
and somehow we didn’t get

salmonella or e-coli
or worse, botulism, and suppose we did?
while we threw up—and more—into the bowl
they would always tell us—oh, it’s just one
of those 24 hour bugs…
what protected us then, when
there weren’t stool cultures
the Board of Health was some
underground organization
and the Mayo Clinic a place in Oz?

was it knock on wood
the chicken soup we came home to
the tablespoon of fish oil
we took each morning
or simply their antidote of ignorance
that kept us…somehow…alive?

Photograph Courtesy of D. H. Allen


Dearest Husband, 

     It should please you to know that the porch you made with your stellar carpentry skills and stained each year with polyurethane, even though I complained how bad it smelled and took so long to dry, has been painted a hideous green and peeling down to raw wood.
     And it might also please you to know that the first year I tried to grow tomatoes and basil in your fertile soil, they grew miraculously but the weeds formed an army and now I have a peculiar assortment of tarantula stalks. So I grow tomatoes in a pot that, instead of juicy beefsteaks, spawn hard red growths the size of olives but the basil and parsley do well. Nothing stops basil though the leaves bear strange holes from some unidentified insect and its mate.
     And the lawn that has patches of straw and perky dandelions gets mowed only twice a month and watered rarely, because the hose is always leaking and tripping me every opportunity it can. The balding spots that I’ve tried to impregnate refuse my seed. Many of the trees are already torn down but still new ones grow out of the barks. Vines cover the shed making it look like something out of Little Shop of Horrors.
     And it will also please you to know that the wallpaper in the bathroom is peeling and crazy glue does not fix everything and takes days to get off my fingers with swabs of nail polish remover. The closet doors in our bedroom are falling off the track, the knobs on the kitchen cabinet are stripped and I can’t empty the humidifier in the crawl space, because I can no longer crawl.
     And it will also please you to know that I’m taking out the garbage pails and even painted our address on the kitchen one by mistake. When there were maggots in the pails I cleaned it with bleach while screaming out the F word 6X and spent the whole day seeing white squiggles in front of my eyes. Also, I now kill bees and wasps, spraying them with hairspray or beating them to death with anything I can find, even a hammer.
     I have a collection of handy Jimmies— (seriously, there are five of them) electricians, plumbers, painters, snow removal, lawn guys, etc…all taking large bites out of your pension and social security. I still can’t check the oil in the car because actually I’m still trying to figure out how to open the hood.
     And finally, it will extra please you to know I’ve tried all the dating sites and that according to E-Harmony. Com, I am, essentially, unmatchable.

Yours Truly,

~Gloria g. Murray

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